Tag Archive | elements

She is Three

I love the symbolism of Maiden-Mother-Crone. Not only was the Triple Goddess concept a life-saver for me in my 30s (when I found Wicca more than twenty years ago), but I still resonate to the symbolism of Three in many ways. This leads me to feel that while we may lean one direction intellectually, I often wonder if there isn’t an energetic pattern or genetic memory associated for some of us with this connection to the Triple Goddess. But then, I link to energies, not dogma; structure can be helpful scaffolding, and provide a sense of support especially when starting on a new path, but I prefer to weave my own spiritual practice and life.

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Three Raccoons Visiting

That said, my embrace of Maiden-Mother-Crone has shifted over time so that I feel the Triple Goddess not so much as abiding in or expressing as a distinct or rigid phase of life but as ebbing and flowing states of being. In other words, I continually move in and out of these three base energies that arise out of the Divine Cosmic Womb.

This perspective is even easier for me now, to be at ease with this ever-changing concept of Maiden-Mother-Crone, since studying Ayurveda and the Samkhya philosophy. That ancient healing system also views the life phases through a broad spectrum of three primary energies (child is Kapha, productive adult is Pitta, wisdom/spiritual contemplative elder is Vata) although we also, each of us, has within us the unique blend of the doshas (the three arise from the five elements) so we can access any of the energies we need and are not restricted to a particular phase of life. Ultimately, life is change and the patterns or symbols or structures we use are available to us as life support systems, however we need them to be.

Many women in the Women’s Spirituality movement seem just as obsessed with stating the idea that Maiden-Mother-Crone is not ancient tradition as are those who cling firmly to the idea that Maiden-Mother-Crone is linked to ancient tradition. And wherever each of us is, so be it…may we all find our highest and deepest healing path. Because Wicca was “re-created” by a man (Gerald Gardner) and a man (Robert Graves) developed the concept of three goddesses as aligned with three lunar phases, many women now go overboard the other direction to disparage their ideas. I used to do that, too, and still occasionally find myself resisting something simply because a man created, developed, or expanded upon an idea or concept. However, the older I get, the more at ease I am in realizing that we’re all human and there are brilliant, sensitive men able to tap into women’s feelings, emotions, and perceptions, spiritual or otherwise. (It probably helps that my husband is a loving, generous example of this kind of man.)

Further, this determined adherence to fact or data – only accepting what has been “proven” — is often a defensive move so that people don’t think women are crazily irrational in their belief system. Not that this is an imaginary response. Sadly, we still experience a duality – the one that says men are rational, and women are not. I feel like a lot of women continue to retain a lot of anger, bitterness, and defensiveness, based upon their (our) experiences of men, duality, hierarchy, and/or patriarchy. Feminism has evolved and come a long way, but the movement is far from over.

Recently I heard of a spiritual teacher who begins many lectures or teachings with the phrase: “maybe I’m wrong but…”. This opens up the conversation and lets the speaker, right from the start, admit to the listeners that there are other possibilities than just the one she personally advocates for herself. This is where I like to place myself, as well, and it allows for transformative experiences and beliefs. I don’t care to experience life from within the confines of yes or no, true or false, fact or fiction. So, while I may have my own theories and belief system, it’s just that…mine.

This leads me to my appreciation for a recent post on Feminism and Religion by Carol Christ, a foremother of the Women’s Spirituality movement. I’ve read all of Carol’s books, many of her articles, and have long admired her as a sort of kindred spirit. I love that she continues to share her thoughts and feelings through her own spiritual and life journey; she has had a tremendous impact upon my own journey. However, since I’m not an academic person, I have no deep need or desire to accept, confirm, or deny definitively whether the Triple Goddess symbolism is “an ancient pattern” or a modern creation. Carol ends with:

“Ours is not a tradition handed down intact from the ancient past, rather it is a new creative synthesis of aspects of the past combined with contemporary insight and experience. Once we recognize that the Triple Goddess is a contemporary creation, we are free to affirm Maiden, Mother, Crone—or to use other symbols.”

So, I guess I both agree and disagree with the above. Maybe the Triple Goddess is ancient memory, maybe not. That’s not important to me. What I do agree with is that each of us is always free to access that which resonates, whether old, new, or unknown, and to then create powerful, healing symbols and systems for ourselves and the world.

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Cellular Memory

The fall of rain produces a droplet of creative impression from a wet cell that squeezes itself into a new organ — foreign territory that is familiar because felt in itIMG_4048s own universal oneness of origin but yet the unchosen trail behind becomes the one in front and we move into that intrigue. The stardust of ancient life before the dinosaurs, before the seas spewed forth transformative blobs of skin and hair and sturdy hardened bone mass to walk upon earth. Here is the cellular memory, we can feel all who have passed inside us, smiling, as we cling desperately to this one form without realizing our soul travel across galaxies of form and function … evolutionary babes in the wise woods of deep time, geologic time, of the previous ones who left no signs because of age and hidden energies once felt as simple as breathing. Glimpses of them peek out from the rocks but as an infinitesimal speck, a symbol, a single letter from a language of experience long forgotten. We think we know but our grasp is fragile and narrow; our souls know though. Love this body, this life; love others with a broad sweeping lens of celebration to see grand diversity, knowing the reality truly is unimaginable — and that, too, is beautiful because we will be seeking forever, an eternal curious journey of soul passages. My cells transmute and I can feel time shimmer, disappearing from the linear yardstick, becoming spirals and waves unseen but known. I’m not crazy. Am I?

Welcoming Mawu

MawuSculptedSerpentineElephant2015She observes in stillness, but her head is tilted to the side, a state of curiosity in her witnessing so that I am not uncomfortable with a confrontational gaze, not unnerved by too intense a watchfulness.

She listens with a sweet sort of inclined attention, with a flow to her posture that welcomes story and presence without the intimidation her size might otherwise instill upon my essential timidity. I am a mouse before her giantess nature of peace and communion in the wilderness in which we both live.

She is ancient angelic behemoth, swaying to celestial harp and earthly rhythmic drum, composing songs of pulsing heartbeat and twinkling embrace.

She is the songstress of the land – her sister of ocean is whale. Do they sing to each other in circumference, their vibrational melodies meeting in the air that both breathe?

She speaks through the text of landscape, through feet that sense sound, through a long snake-like trunk that touches and caresses.

She has a message for me; she holds healing and wisdom and beauty so easily balanced.

She is listening to me, hearing me into a more powerful presence.

She removes obstacles and blockages that inhibit creativity and flow.

She is ancient wisdom.

 

My fascination for this sculpture was a mystery. I’ve rarely been drawn to the elephant as a spirit guide though I admire them as I do all creatures. When women in Circle were speaking of how important the elephant was to them, I couldn’t relate. When Ayurveda classmates were embracing Ganesh, I felt only slightly drawn. But when I saw this large sculpted elephantine figure carved out of dark green serpentine stone, I was captivated, our spiritual convergence at hand.

As I had done two years ago with an African figurine (both were found at the Tucson Gem Show), I first turned to a book* for a name. As soon as I saw the name and its short description as “Moon goddess and creator of all things,” it felt right.

 

I call her Mawu.**

She came from Zimbabwe.

 

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As I sit with her, as I research her, evidence linking us is revealed.

The blend of sculpting an elephant from serpentine stone is a blessing, the properties of each an invocation upon the other, stone and symbol further stabilized and amplified by the sacred exaltation of Mawu.

Mawu is a Creation Goddess whose fecund energy interconnects with those of the elephant’s longevity and serpentine’s property of cellular regeneration.

Mawu’s symbols of seed and clay align with the elephant’s affinity to the earth, as a grounded and grounding Being, and with serpentine stone’s ability to assist in healing the earth through it’s association with elemental beings.

Mawu, “after creating the earth and all life and everything else on it, She became concerned that it might be too heavy, so She asked the primeval serpent, Aido Hwedo, to curl up beneath the earth and thrust it up in the sky.” In this respect, she is aligned with serpentine stone in its ability to work with the powers of Snake.

Mawu, a lunar goddess, “arrives on an elephant’s back, expectant with spring’s creative energy.” Within this mythology, she is clearly affiliated with the strength and feminine powers of Elephant.

Of particular interest to me, as I continue seeking ways to adjust to Desert Fire, is that Mawu “is the one who brings the cool nights to the hot African world.” This attribute is exceedingly welcome!

All three – Mawu, Elephant, and Serpentine – impart the quality of Wisdom.

There are many more healing and supportive qualities I need that flow between this symbolic and energetic representation of Goddess, animal, and stone. The above are just a few.

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* Conway, D.J. The Ancient & Shining Ones: World Myth, Magic & Religion.

** Now, a sculpture from South Africa (Zimbabwe) carries the name of a West African (Benin) Goddess. The name Mawu is from myths told by people in the former Kingdom of Dahomey, now known as the Country of Benin, in West Africa. Benin borders Bekina Faso, which is where the sculptor who made my bronze figurine lives.

Deep Listening, Deep Seeing

DesertDawnSky081114Rainstorm! Thunder! Lightening!

Across the night sky my heart was beating and I heard it in Her voice at play among the clouds in our union. My body in bed relaxed into the moments; whisked away to the inky infinite I was at peace, serenity of mind and body attuned to the symphony held among the stars tossing themselves across the expanse as they danced in a lacy play of cosmological badminton.

A breezy, cool 70 degrees welcomed me on an early walk as the clouds created a soft batting above and I could look directly at the dawning sun — we beamed at each other while the hills were a splendor of rust and emerald, rock and plant. In the opposite distance, the western horizon was blinking itself awake with half-closed eyes in wrinkled pink and violet. 

The air was, and is still, heavy with suspended silken water that absorbs into my skin and, deeper, into my cells — I am fluid, flexible, bending like the slender hop seed branches. The Santa Cruz River is flowing, there are puddles in the Sonoran Desert, and I am full in our Oneness — a well-spring opened.

Solitary, I sit outside sipping chai — no dogs are with me for, being a weekend, they would bark at any noise in the neighborhood. This is part of my new practice of growing a deeper silence: a few moments of only background noise so that the space around me heals, my aura can feel itself gently pulsing, and I can feel me — alone. To grow, breathe, Be in a state of solitude and learn to relish this quiet separation that mysteriously creates total union with all life. A solitary bee is buzzing near my head, off on its own private adventure this morning while a bird flies overhead, cawing — not a crow, a gray bird who seems a little frantic, searching.

I didn’t even hold my usual indoor sadhana … this moment called for me to be in the outdoors, sitting, listening, Being. The thickened air holds scents more firmly and I know the plenitude of dogs in the area by smell as well as sound, one sense that normally doesn’t alert me to their presence since the usual aridness desiccates droppings rapidly. 

I lightly brush the soles of my feet upon the still-damp sandstone, feeling its softness, and wonder how far it traveled to be here; does it miss its first home? The sandstone — sandpaper-like against the calluses on my feet — breathes, I can imagine the space between the particles where the granules are splashing in puddles like happy grubby children and a subtle melody, a lullaby, whispers itself into existence unheard except by otherly realms found in fables. While walking earlier, my husband pointed out a rock formation upon a nearby hill — a giant turtle rock. The hills are a bounty of shapes and sizes; a little imagination goes a long way. 

My husband rescued (with permission) abandoned rocks from the shelves of the basement at his office, and they are excited to be out in the elements again, once more soaking up the rain and reflecting the sun and feeling the wind whip around their jagged faces. Liberation! 

RockFaceA rock face guards the agave, his solemn expression reminding me of Easter Island giants or totem pole alchemists shapeshifting. His chin is jade green, his lip line thin and stoic beneath a recessed granite nose, broad and sensing all that goes on around him. Green appears painted around deep-set eyes beneath his broad gray brow. His inner cheeks are rusty brown from too much sun as he holds the space around him in safety. What are the minerals called that he reveals in such solid presence?

I had felt the coyotes watching us during our morning walk; they were safely hidden among the wild buffer zone of mesquite and palo verde and cholla. Motionless, they were undetectable by weak human eyes so I only knew them through feeling their eyes upon us, that prickle on the back of the neck; one that could have been a vibration of past presence, who knows for sure. It doesn’t matter because at least I know they are out there, still stalking, breathing, Being. If I were to stand barefoot on the sand atop the packed earthen ‘concrete’ — the hard caliche of the desert floor — could I feel their paws trotting miles away? Does the dense earth of desert pavement carry their vibrations like the stampede of buffalo were heard miles away by placing one’s ear next to the plains grasses on ground that held the sounds of all life, all movement, back to the beginning of time? 

Is Gaia’s body a chamber of resonance across time and space? We talk of a Field “out there” somewhere, but what about the Field of pure awareness that holds the recordings of all manifest form archived within Her veins, cells, tissue and organs? 

Do our rescued rocks, now reconnected with the skin of Mother Earth, speak of their adventures and send their memories into the chamber of knowledge beneath my feet? 

3RocksEach rock has its own forgotten story of excavation, transport, experimentation, and entombment. A story that is a mere blink, but each one unique. In the palest of sage green coloring, a mere blush of elegant residue, the pyramid stone casts healing rays around the yard, its edges rough yet kind, an ancient symbol of masculine principle transformed into healing the wounds of patriarchal ignorance. Three huge guardians, each of different origin, bump shoulders in a corner: green, brown, gray … they anchor us here, determination and courage in their unearthed exposure reminding me that home is wherever I desire it to be, it’s where love is. To go visiting for nourishment and expansion is wonderful … but my human-rock, my Beloved, is here. He, like the boulders, anchors me in safety wherever I am. 

This is our story … rain, desert, rocks … all Beings.

Thinness of Self

handleafveilbwI had lain in bed at dawn, savoring the taste of silence, appreciating the moment of dark quiet with Widget snuggled against my side and Phoenix curled at my feet. This was a moment of sweet peace, relaxing, breathing in the silence that would sustain me during the rest of the day. A short while later, when I took the dogs outside and we stepped into the dove-gray softness of liminal light, a small bat was flitting back and forth above my head quite near but silent. Gaia’s Grace was tangible.

There is a line that I love in A Book of Silence: “the thinness of my sense of self” (p.17). When I read this, I felt I became intimate with the book’s author, Sara Maitland. I’ve never met her and probably never will, but with this comment, I felt we were kindred spirits. She is writing of how difficult it is for her to sit in silent meditation with others because she is so aware of them it intrudes upon her own sense of silence.

I nearly squealed in recognition of this sensation of “thinness of self” because I experience this when even one other person is in the house with me. I usually considered this due to my personal insecurity, or perhaps embarrassment or discomfiture that I was somehow being “judged” and could feel the judgment oozing through even a closed door. However, I also usually experienced this at Kripalu — though to a milder degree — in group meditation, where it was highly unlikely that others were judging me since they, too, were meditators. Nevertheless, I was often feeling a disturbance of energy in the room rather than my own peaceful silence or the group silence. I simply am not at ease in group meditation. And this went against (which added to my feeling of being an “outsider”) the teachings of all the benefits of meditating in groups to assist with maintaining and encouraging spiritual focus and energy. Occasionally, the meditation was long enough I could reach my own silent center and personal sacred space of nothingness, my core of being. But not often.

When I think it is my insecurity creating this inability to feel the silence in a group, I feel negative overtones. But what if this is a “thinness of self” that is naturally spiritual? What if it is the natural thinness that comes directly from one’s soul? Sara Maitland seems to worry, as do I, that this is some kind of “fault” in our character. But is it? Why would it necessarily be so? Why would we assume it is? Is it not simply a trait that is natural? Perhaps our discomfort or inability to rest in group silence is a judgment of our society, even a spiritual one like at Kripalu or a retreat center? A judgment that is more comfortable grouping everyone together and not comfortable with those who are solitaries in their silence? The only advantage I personally could see to a group meditation was that it provided a structure for the ritual, something that says it is to be done now, not put off, not shortened or skipped — group practice can create a sort of discipline if one has a hard time doing this alone. And yet, even if that aspect is helpful in the beginning, it is still adherence to someone else’s control of our path. At some point, will our spiritual path be important enough that we are disciplined by self?

Is it possible that this “thinness” of self goes further than imagined? That it is a gift allowing a permeability of spirit to more easily flow in and out of soul, and that solitude is needed for some of us to lower the barriers we maintain in any group? Is it this “thinness” that can sometimes be perceived by others as a “madness” or a form of dysfunction because it doesn’t adhere to the group mind? Or is it a source of creativity in some sense? At least for some of us? Clearly not for all of us because many people go deeply into meditation in groups or create marvelous works of art in the company of like-minded individuals or even strangers. But, for some of us, why do we automatically assume that this thinness is a fault, a flaw in our constitutional construction?

Some contrasts I feel here with Maitland are, for instance, that I’ve avoided groups my entire life; preferring one or two people at a time to crowds; even being uncomfortable at my own family’s dinner table at times. Whereas Maitland speaks of her joy in the bantering noise of discussions in family and other groups … that she didn’t begin to yearn for silence and/or solitude until later in life. Which shows her to be following a somewhat normal basic inclination — a healthy one — as described by Ayurveda, i.e., the Vata phase of life. Further, Maitland divorced — she began her journey into seeking silence while on her own, without a life-partner to consider, and this allowed her more freedom to fully engage with the Call of Spirit, to deepen her relationship with silence and solitude. I, however, have a beloved husband. Yet we, in our partnership, continue creating ways for my “thinness of self” to be nourished and encouraged.

Our partnership has been built, in part, upon early recognition of my need for solitude and silence. We didn’t call it “thinness of sense of self” though; an easier and more common term, though one just as socially unacceptable, is introversion. Confessedly, moving to Arizona has been a trial in this area, due to some confusion, loss, misunderstanding, and stumbling.

GatesPassHowever, come winter and cooler weather, I will be able to drive fifteen minutes into the desert, walk a short distance, and experience vast silence and that will, hopefully, induce a greater sense of solitude … one where my thinness can breathe more easily — if I can release my fear of the desert. As Maitland puts it, “the silence of the desert has a horror to it, as well as, born of the horror, a deep and joyful beauty. The desert is vast, cruel and very silent” (p. 128). Perhaps there is a way for me to replace my fear of the desert with love for the opportunity it provides in its unique manifestation of silence and solitude? To balance the environmental overwhelm I feel in this harsh landscape with a freedom of expansive space once the extreme heat recedes for the winter? In that silence, what will happen out of the thinness that is my self and the prominent desert elements of fire and air?

I seek a greater spiritual appreciation of the desert. I seek this so that even though my preference is cave and forest, where I feel safe (and, interestingly, another contrast is that Maitland does not feel safe in the forest), I can move into a state of gratitude for this opportunity of spiritual exploration through desert presence. After all, Maitland who lives in the United Kingdom had to travel to the Sinai Desert whereas my desert is all around me. Maybe my “thinness of self” will facilitate my becoming one with the desert silence, and, through that grace, find a deeper peace here?

May Bast guide our journeys to self through silence and solitude.

Transformative Alchemy

CatalinaStateParkA traditional Pagan invocation that has been edited and adapted through the years has most often aligned Fire with Spirit as: By the Fire of Her Bright Spirit.

Since moving to the Sonoran Desert, I’ve been seeking other words aside from Spirit that resonate with my personal sense of Gaia’s Fire. Living in the desert is a unique opportunity to become more familiar with Fire, more familiar than I ever desired to be, and this closeness continues to work within me as a sometimes unnerving or overwhelming changeability.

Spirit is all the elements of Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and including Ether/Space. Spirit is Shakti; Spirit is everything we sense and do and are that is manifested through Soul Journey. Fire is another element in our Biospheric journey that metamorphoses, transmutes; it is not only the light but also the invisible firing of neurons and the digestion of food and experiences. Fire is our chemical processing; it is often a mysterious force but still elemental, not solely Spirit. All the elements are Spirit, are derived from and infused with Spirit, and to align Fire as Spirit’s representative feels out of context in my prayer to Mother Earth.

And so, for now, I feel more aligned with shifting my language toward this metamorphic energy that is Gaia’s element of Fire:

By the Air which is Her Breath

By the Fire of Her Alchemy

By the Waters of Her Living Womb

By the Earth which is Her Body

We are One

As Above, So Below

As Within, So Without

 

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From Ms. Emily ~ a Poetry Portal …

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I taste a liquor never brewed — 

From Tankards scooped in Pearl — 

Not all the Vats upon the Rhine

Yield such an Alcohol!

 

Inebriate of Air — am I — 

And Debauchee of Dew — 

Reeling — thro endless summer days — 

From inns of Molten Blue —

 

When “Landlords” turn the drunken Bee

Out of the Foxglove’s door — 

When Butterflies — renounce their “drams” — 

I shall but drink the more!

 

Till Seraphs swing their snowy Hats — 

And Saints — to windows run — 

To see the little Tippler

Leaning against the — Sun —  

 

~ Emily Dickinson (#214 Johnson)

 

——————-and here is where I’m led … Continue reading